Take it all off

One of the most important things to learn about makeup is how to take it off. Our skin needs a chance to breathe and repair itself while we sleep, and it’s crucial to wash our faces at the end of a long day to get rid of any buildup, oil and grime. Neglecting to routinely cleanse the skin can result in clogged pores, breakouts, and a dull complexion.

For the past year I’ve been using Neutrogena’s Makeup Remover Cleansing Towlettes in the Hydrating formula and I love them, especially for the price. For a pack of 25 wipes it’ll cost you around $7.00. Each cloth is saturated so it effectively removes foundation and eye makeup (I use a different product for eyes too, if needed, Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover) so your cleanser can penetrate deeper and actually do its job. Neutrogena and other brands offer many different kinds of wipes in many different formulas for different skin care needs, but these are my favorite so far.

The wipes have a faint scent but nothing that is put there on purpose and doesn’t strike me as offensive. Since the formula is hydrating, it’ll save you if you absolutely can’t pull yourself out of bed to apply moisturizer.

You can also use a cleansing oil, (Bobbi Brown, MAC, and Shu Uemura are known for great ones) cleansing balm or cleansing milk but I find wipes to be faster, easier and less of a mess. Even at the end of a long day if you’re too exhausted to go through a whole skin care routine, you can at least use a wipe to get the product off your face and give your skin a break.

What do you use to cleanse?


Ole Henriksen’s 3 Little Wonders

In hopes of making updates to this blog a more regular occurrence, I’ll keep the ball rolling with a product review. Well, a 3-in-1 product review in attempts to make up for lost time.

In the past 4 months, I’ve completely fallen in love with Ole Henriksen. And if you’re wondering as much as I was, his name is pronounced Ooo-Lah not Oh-lay. You also might be wondering who he is, or rather how good or bad his products are.

Last December, I was in the market for some new skin care and I had heard great things about Ole Henriksen and his thoughts on ingredients for glowing skin. I had my eye on the 3 Little Wonders kit. It features 3 generously sized products for $70, so essentially you’re getting to try a full-size product for free since the kit is valued at $101.

The kit includes:

  • 1 oz Truth Serum
  • 1 oz Invigorating Night Gel
  • 1 oz Sheer Transformation moisturizers886358-main-hero

It’s hard to say which product in the kit is my favorite, because I’ll they all play a part in visibly improving my complexion. They are all oil free, and formulated without Parabens, Sulfates, Phthalates, GMO and Triclosan. Now I don’t know what most of those are, but they sound bad so I don’t necessarily want to be rubbing them all over my face.

The first item in the kit, and possibly the front runner, is the Truth Serum which is loaded with Vitamin C that promotes brighter, healthier skin. It has a slight citrus smell, and its consistency is very thin. The bottle has a pump which is great for sanitary reasons, but sometimes it sticks and is a pain to get the right amount of product out. I use this first in my night time routine after removing my makeup and cleansing my face, but I use it in the morning as well after cleaner and before moisturizer.

Next up is the Invigorating Night Gel. This is basically a chemical exfoliant, (which I find more effective and more gentle than a physical one) so I only use it 2-3 times a week depending how my skin feels. I’ve never tried anything like this particular product, and it does make a difference. It might cause your skin to feel a bit tight and tingly at first, but that quickly dissipates when moisturizer is applied. It does wonders for evening skin tone and preventing breakouts. I use this product only at night, hence the name. My one qualm about it, and also about the moisturizer which I’ll talk about next, is that both come in jars rather than having pump applicators. Sticking your fingers in the product then on your face then back in the product night after night just screams for bacteria that is likely causing the problems you’re trying to avoid or correct in the first place.

Sheer Transformation is a light weight moisturizer that feels quite nice when applied. It makes skin noticeably smoother, or at least it does in when used in conjunction with the other products in the kit. There is no heavy scent, and it has not caused any irritation or a single breakout. I don’t think it was heavy enough for me in the winter months (for that I stick to my trust Clinique Moisture Surge) but I can tell this will be a staple for me come summer.

All in all, the 3 Little Wonders kit is a great introduction to Ole Henriksen’s line and it’s a great value. I will say that I have purchased the kit twice now, and it is a bit irritating that you don’t necessarily finish all the products at once so there is some overlap, especially with using the Invigorating Night Gel much less than the other two products. It is worth it though, at least for me, to try a new skin care regimen that actually performs the way it promises to.

Skin care is a sensitive area, and what works for me might not work for you and vice versa. As someone with very fair and sensitive skin, I will tell you this line has done no wrong for me so far in the four months I’ve been actively using it. If you’re interested, ask for some samples from your local Sephora. I also recommend introducing each product into your skin care routine one at a time, this way if you do suffer a reaction, you will be able to pin point the culprit rather than playing a guessing game.

Ole Henriksen is sold at Sephora, sephora.com and olehenriksen.com.

Trending Thoughts

I know I’m not the only one anxiously awaiting warmer weather. After learning that here in the Midwest we have about a week of April showers to look forward to, I’ve found myself turning to my wardrobe and cosmetics collection in hopes of forcing spring to come.

I’ve noticed other women employing similar tactics; wearing bright blouses and foregoing their down jackets for chic trench coats. But the key here, the simple notion that has held true throughout the decades, is that whether you’re facing gloom in your life or gloom in the sky, a vivid lipstick might be all you need to help you through the day. After all, it’s easier to fake it till you make it when you’re smiling through Dior’s latest shade of hot pink gloss.

As we look toward spring/summer makeup trends for 2013, we’re seeing everything from matte to metallic eyes, dusty rose to fiery red lips, and heavy gel liner. While seasonal changes can spice things up and pull us all out of makeup ruts, I’d ask us all to keep our go-to looks in mind. While trends offer great inspiration, and boost sales, there are products and looks that work for us no matter what time of year it is. It’s this simple: wear what you’re comfortable in. This applies to everything from how your jeans fit to how far you wing your eyeliner. If you’re not comfortable, don’t succumb to a trend because a magazine told you so. Find a trend you like, and customize it to fit you.

I wanted to return to this blog with a long overdue post with this advice, or rather friendly reminders. The beauty community, after all, is supposed to be a place where women feel empowered, supported, and of course, pretty. Stay tuned for more frequent posts coming soon!

What trends are you most looking forward to this summer?

Nail the look for less: Deborah Lippmann dupe

If you’re a lover of nail lacquers, you’ll likely have a reaction when you hear the words Deborah Lippmann. If you don’t know the name, you should. In the world of nail polish, Lippmann is among the top ranked for formulation, texture, and unique selection. She has designed numerous polishes for the celebrities who wear them, and she’s famous for her glitters. It’s true; no one does glitter like Deborah Lippmann. Or so I thought.

She recently released a shade that’s absolutely gorgeous, not unlike her others in that way. What does make the polish stand out is the color itself. It’s called “Mermaid’s Dream,” and that’s exactly what it looks like. It’s a shimmering sea-foam green that has blue flecks of glitter and silver iridescence throughout it. I’ve been eyeing (or drooling over) this polish since I saw it at Nordstrom, but it’s hard to rationalize spending $18 on a nail polish and I can rationalize almost any beauty purchase. I was seriously considering taking the plunge until I walked into Urban Outfitters today.

A sign in the window that said jewelry was on sale lured me in, as they often do. After I found a few pieces I walked up to the register where my eyes started to browse the lovely opportunities for an impulse purchase. Sure enough I found one. But not just any one. It was a nail polish that looked strikingly familiar. It looked like an exact dupe for “Mermaid’s Dream.”

Upon closer inspection, I learned the polish was called “Sea Dust” and that it was $5. Sold.

Now, I do not own Mermaid’s Dream so I can’t give you a side by side swatch comparison, but below is a picture of the polish and a picture of my bottle of Sea Dust. You be the judge.

From what I hear there are slight differences between the two in terms of opacity in one coat (Mermaid’s Dream wins) and texture (Sea Dust is smoother), but at a price difference of $13, I say run to Urban Outfitters and grab a bottle of Sea Dust if you’re as intrigued by this color as I am.

YSL Touche Éclat Foundation!

You read right, Yves St. Laurent is releasing a much overdue companion to its best-selling product and one of the best-selling cosmetics of all time, Touche Éclat. The formula has been in development for 10 years, and will be released just in time for the 20 year anniversary of the debut of Touche Éclat.

This new line includes foundations that lean yellow, pink or neutral in terms of undertone which is rare and exciting. Usually a line will offer only yellow or only pink. Some brands like MAC offer both pink and yellow tones, but no neutral. This is the first standout for this new foundation. The second is that there will be 22 shades within the range, going from the porcelain to the ebony. This means that hopefully most women will be able to find an incredibly close match to their natural complexion.

The main draw of this foundation is its finish. It is supposed to act similarly to the original Touche Éclat which is a highlighting pen. Many women mistake it for a concealer and apply it directly under their eyes and are disappointed with the results. That’s because the product isn’t meant to conceal, it’s meant to draw light to the areas of the face that you like which are usually the tops of the cheek bones, brow bones, bridge of the nose, cupid’s now, and chin. The foundation is meant to complement its predecessor and melt into the skin for a natural, radiant finish. Since I haven’t had the chance to try it yet (it’s set to release in the U.S. at the end of July) I can’t speak to the longevity or feel on the skin. From what I’ve heard, though, it’s essential to set with a light powder if you’d like the foundation to last more than 7 hours or so. The formula is made without opaque powders, which makes sense if it’s supposed to attract light, but it also means that if you’re looking for heavy coverage you might want to look elsewhere.

It’s priced at $55 for a 30 ml bottle. It has a pump which is great because it keeps the product application sanitary, and limits how much you dispense.With foundations like these I usually find it best to apply with your fingers and allow their warmth to blend the product seamlessly into your skin, but I will try it with a variety of brushes and my beloved Beauty Blender and give my opinion on what works the best.

Consider me excited for this release. How about you?

Quick Tip: Get your scissors!

I’d like to share a helpful tip that some of you may or may not already know. This one comes from my grandma, a very wise woman whose only cosmetic of choice throughout her life was red lipstick. Even now she has beautiful skin, so it makes sense that she never had to put anything on it.

I was going to throw a tube of my recently reviewed Shea & Cashmere hand cream in the trash, thinking I had used it all up. My grandma told me not to throw it away just yet, to cut it open and get some of the last bit of product out. “You’d be surprised how much you still have left in there.”

Boy was she right. I was foolish and didn’t listen to her on the hand cream, simply because I had another tube on-the-ready and didn’t feel like operating on my current one. But I decided to heed her advice when I discovered I was running low on my Laura Mercier primer. I cut open the tube right in the middle, and there was a ton of primer clinging to the sides and up under the cap. I scraped it out and put it into a small cosmetics container, one of those that you can buy at Target for travel needs. That container has lasted me two weeks so far. And I would have just thrown that tube away otherwise. Gasp!

My grandma is full of helpful tips and I’m lucky to be related to someone so beautiful inside and out. She’s also the only person I know who likes burnt toast, black jelly beans and cabins in Minnesota for an ideal vacation spot. So take it from a lady who knows, don’t be afraid to slice open your cosmetics!

Love you, Gram.

New from Revlon

I get pretty excited when I hear about a brand releasing a new item and/or collection. I get doubly excited when it’s an easily accessible and affordable brand like those carried in your local drugstore. Add to that the term “limited edition” and my interest is peaked. Women seem to go nuts over limited edition products. I don’t know what we think we’ll miss out on but hey, this tactic works.

Luckily, the new items set to release from Revlon are reported to be part of its permanent line, or will be eventually. I’m referring to a new line of lip balm/stains and a line of whipped foundation. I’m interested in trying both products and I’ve kept my eye out for them but no luck yet. The lip stains look comparable to Clinique’s Chubby Sticks or Tarte’s LipSurgence, but Revlon’s are a mere $7.00, depending where you find them of course.

These are the first I’ve seen of this kind of lip product offered from a drugstore brand. They are really stepping up their game both in terms of quality and product variety. The foundation is also unique on the drugstore market, being somewhere between a cream and mousse product. It might be a tad heavy in terms of coverage for the summer, but I have yet to try it out so I can’t offer a concrete opinion.

Stay tuned!












Amazing Cosmetics Concealer

Since I accepted a new position and bid sleep adieu, also the reason for my sudden absence, I’ve been on the search for a pigmented, smooth, long-lasting and affordable concealer to brighten up my undereye area. In short, I was looking for a miracle. Well, I’m back to tell you that I’ve found a pretty good product, definitely the best concealer I’ve used.

Amazing Cosmetics concealer is…amazing. I’ve ignored the hype about this product for so long; it actually says “World’s Best Concealer” right on the packaging. But I always figured; don’t they all claim to be the best? Well I think Amazing Cosmetics takes the cake. While it is a bit pricey at $28 for a 0.2 oz tube, a little bit goes a long way so it will last you quite awhile.  To test out concealers, I usually dab the product on the back of my hand and see how it does at covering up any veins. This one almost completely hid the blue on my hand so I knew it was coming home with me.

The concealer covers extremely well without looking cakey or accentuating any fine lines. It’s slightly tacky so I find it best to apply as I do all my eye products, using a tapping motion rather than rubbing it across your skin. Tapping the product in allows it to absorb more smoothly and blend seamlessly with the warmth of your fingers. I tend to use my fingers rather than a brush for that reason.

With some concealers, after application you can still see a slight shadow peaking through, but with this one due to the saturation of the color, shadows are nearly eliminated. Of course this depends on the severity of your darkness, but apply at your discretion. The product applies well in layers, so it’s best to start with a very little amount and build up to your desired coverage.

It wears fairy well, I’d say 8 hours or so with no touch-ups, and I have combination skin. It settles slightly into fine lines, but not offensively so; I’ve never met a concealer that hasn’t. I came across this product in the checkout line at Sephora and since I had a 10% VIB coupon, I decided to pick it up. Sephora doesn’t carry the entire line of Amazing Cosmetics, but Ulta does. The concealer also comes in a 0.5oz tube for $40 if you really fall in love with it. There are 10 shades to choose from, and I picked up the color Fair which is a nice match for my skin.

I’m still currently using my Bobbi Brown undereye corrector in Bisque, and I tap a light layer of Amazing Cosmetics concealer over it and voila! Looks like I got 8 hours of sleep rather than 4.

Cashmere at Your Fingertips

I don’t usually venture into Bath & Body Works, mainly because I’m not that into candles and body sprays and hand sanitizers, etc. I tend to splurge on beauty products with end results you can actually see and save on body washes and the like.

I went into Bath & Body Works awhile ago though because I had a coupon and was looking for a gift for someone who loves the store. While I was there I tried out some hand cream and it turned out to be a fantastic decision. I tried the True Blue Spa Shea Cashmere hand cream, and it was to die for. It has a sweet scent, but not overwhelmingly so. The cream is so soft and smooth it’s no wonder they call it cashmere. It’s quite thick, but not greasy at all. It leaves your hands feeling smooth for hours, but I always apply it after I wash my hands simply because I love the smell. It absorbs into the skin quickly so you can go back to what you were doing right away without having to let your hands dry.

It lingers on the skin for a bit and I usually get complements when I walk into a room. Some people say it smells like coconut, others say chocolate; personally I think it smells like frosting but not a manufactured sugary smell, it’s very rich. Either way, people seem to love it. The price isn’t bad, $10 for 2.5 oz. If you’re lucky you can catch it on sale which is always a nice bonus. I keep one at my desk at work, one on my night stand and one in my car. Moisturizing your hands is just as important as moisturizing your face ladies!

In the Shea Cashmere collection there are also body creams, body washes and body lotions. I haven’t tried any of these out yet but I would definitely be willing.

Covergirl & Olay Simply Ageless: Foundation Fail

I’ve been wanting to try out a crème foundation lately, for the mere facts that application is fast and easy and they’re supposed to be hydrating. I didn’t want to run out and spend $50 on one if I wasn’t sure I’d like the formula, so I started browsing the aisles at Target and came across a collaboration between Covergirl and Olay. I picked up the Simply Ageless foundation which is supposed to smooth fine lines and wrinkles, and is infused with a skin care serum that is visible in the pan, but not on your face. It can cost anywhere from $11-$13 depending on where you buy it and if you have a coupon. The plastic pan contains 12 grams of product and it is unscented. It’s not exactly travel friendly, as the crème is contained in one side, and the other side twists off to reveal a sponge for application. The sponge isn’t terrible, but it will give you heavy coverage so keep that in mind.

I want to tell you I loved this product. I want to tell you it was everything I was looking for and more. But I won’t. Because I hated it. I still hate it and will forever glare at it as I walk by any Covergirl display ever. It’s really too bad, because in terms of the smoothness of the cream and the color I loved it. It matches my very fair skin perfectly and doesn’t oxidize throughout the day. I got shade 205, the lightest they produce. It’s quite emollient and blends flawlessly into the skin. However, some ingredient, and I don’t know which one, wreaked havoc on my skin. Keep in mind that my skin is pretty sensitive, so if you don’t have that problem this foundation could very well work for you. But after my experience, I will be staying far away from this one.

I wore it for one day, about 8 hours or so, and I thought it wore quite well. The coverage is medium-full depending on how much is applied. It’s easy to get heavy-handed with crème products but try to avoid it because the end result will be a cakey mess. A few hours into the wear time, my skin began to feel itchy. I looked in the mirror and noticed little red marks on my skin accompanied by a blemish. RED FLAG. As someone who prefers flawless skin, I was mortified. And furious.

I went back to my normal liquid foundation and my skin calmed down within a few days, but I won’t be trying that again. I’m assuming it was the Olay anti-aging serum in the product that caused my skin irritation, but I’m not 100% sure. If you have sensitive skin, proceed with caution. Or not at all.